25 World Cup Players Who've Made Cases for Big Money Moves
The World Cup is perhaps the ultimate area for players to impress clubs and secure lucrative transfers. The following 25 players have shined for their clubs and their countries and are poised to make moves to bigger teams and better leagues.
Many players that shine in the World Cup are already heralded talents, but it truly does take a solid campaign at the World Cup to secure a transfer. Next are the top footballers that have made a case for a move.
Jong Te-Se, FW, Kawasaki Frontale
The “[Asian] people’s Wayne Rooney” impresses at both the club and international level.
The Japanese-born North Korean showed tremendous heart and plenty of technical skill at the World Cup, which should be enough for a European club to give him a chance. He’s registered interest in Poland with top club Legia, although he deserves a better move.
Although Jong Te-Se plays second fiddle to Kawasaki’s Brazilian strikers, he still scores loads of goals and provides 7s every time he plays. A move to the Netherlands would suit him very well, as he has plenty of time to move up the club ladder.
Maarten Stekelenburg, GK, Ajax
Stekelenburg is probably one of the most underappreciated goalkeepers in the world. Now the starter for the Netherlands, it feels like he’s played forever.
An Ajax lifer, the 27-year-old keeper should be ready for a new challenge at Villarreal or Arsenal after serving Ajax well. Stekelenburg would be an immediate upgrade at keeper for many big clubs, and a big club will sign him soon enough.
Raul Meireles, MC, Porto
Raul Meireles is probably known more for the tattoos that span all across his body than his play, but that doesn’t diminish his talent. A box-to-box midfielder that operates in the center of the park, he is tidy as a defender and passer and has a wicked long shot.
Meireles has long dreamed of playing in the one of the Big Three leagues, although a move to France is more likely.
Nonetheless, Manchester United and Newcastle have apparently registered interest in the Porto man, so he may just fulfill his dreams.
Lee Chung-Yong, RW, Bolton
The young 21-year-old midfielder signed for Bolton just last season but has already attracted interest from bigger clubs.
The technical maestro is unlikely to move because he just moved to Bolton last year and is growing comfortable with English football, although Liverpool is apparently interested.
If the money is right, Lee’s fledgling talent could move elsewhere—clubs will pay for who The Times considers a top-50 talent in England.
Kevin-Prince Boateng, AMC, Portsmouth
With Pompey relegated from the Premiership, a quality player like Boateng is all but headed to a new club this summer.
He’ll be available at a reasonable price because of Portsmouth’s relegation, although both he and his club hope that he continues his stellar performances at the World Cup, thereby raising his transfer fee.
Boateng is far from a finished product, although he was one of the most lauded prospects only a few years ago and will always play with his heart on his sleeve. A move to a Premiership side or Italy is in the cards, with a handful of teams, including Lazio, interested.
Gervinho, F/LW, Lille
As the Golden Generation of Ivorian footballers ride off into the sunset, Gervinho is primed to lead the next generation as the burgeoning star of the national side.
Gervinho is solid at the club level and is slowly blooming into a great international performer.
Pundits praise his immense potential as a wiry attacker/inside forward, which might be enough to secure a move away from France—Barcelona courted him a few years ago, and Arsenal is apparently interested.
Clint Dempsey, RM/FW, Fulham
Dempsey’s performances—his occasional goals and persistent work rate—at the World Cup were solid, but his club form with Fulham has earned Dempsey suitors.
Although Dempsey wasn’t always penciled in the starting XI by manager Roy Hodgson, he produced moments of magic at Fulham and is established himself as a firm club favorite.
Not many players can score wonder goals like the one he scored against Juventus in the relatively big-time Europa League competition.
Dempsey will probably stay at Fulham, but he might jump to another suitor—probably another Premier League side— with a managerial change looming. Napoli is rumored to be interested in Dempsey as well.
Gary Medel, DF/DM, Boca Juniors (on loan from Universidad Catolica)
Gary Medel essentially provides a near clone of Arturo Vidal in terms of defensive ability and versatility.
Another defender/midfielder hybrid with a knack for scoring vital goals, he shined at Boca and garnered some interest from Europe.
After his solid performances anchoring Chile’s back line at the World Cup, however, the rumor mill is churning, and he will surely see offers from Germany and Italy, if not more.
Landon Donovan, RW/FW, LA Galaxy/MLS
Donovan has risen from the doldrums in his football career (and apparently his personal life too, minus his hairline) and is ready to leave the MLS.
Donovan proved that he could cut it in Europe with Everton—a team that plays in a league that values physicality, pace, hustle, and grit over technical ability—and a move back to the Merseyside would be good for Donovan.
Manchester City and Chelsea apparently are interested in the Galaxy playmaker/striker, but he needs to get regular playing time, and he doesn’t make that cut at City or Chelsea. His performances at the World Cup, scoring crucial goals and making plays, may prove otherwise, however.
Nicolás Otamendi, RB, Velez
Otamendi is a transfer waiting to happen, currently plying his trade in his native Argentina at Velez.
A composed central defender that has risen from being the fifth-choice defender at his club a few seasons ago to a hot young commodity, the 22-year-old Otamendi is linked with every big club.
Inter, Fiorentina, Real Madrid, and Juventus all tried signing him last season, and many more suitors will try to sign him this summer after some very solid performances with the Argentina squad.
Arturo Vidal, DF/DM, Bayer Leverkusen
Vidal has been tremendously solid with his club side, but nothing short of spectacular for Chile. His defensive ability and versatility—he can operate anywhere in the defense and in the midfield—allow Chile to maintain its attacking mentality with success.
He’s been buried in the tabloids because of the lack of name power but has seen interest from England, Spain, and bigger German clubs in the past. He can act too, if that helps his cause in Spain.
Asamoah Gyan, FW, Rennes
The goal that crushed the spirits of American soccer fans most likely secured a lucrative transfer move for Gyan.
A strong finisher with physical ability, Gyan has suitors in the Premier League and Turkey. West Ham is the biggest suitor of Gyan, who isn’t clinical but is ready for increased competition and a move away from France.
Gokhan Inler, DM, Udinese
Inler is a star in the middle of the park for Udinese and has put in tidy performances in the World Cup for Switzerland.
The defensive midfielder is a shield for defenses and has the quality to feature in big sides with his composed defensive skills and ability to springboard attacks.
AC Milan is his biggest suitor, and he will most likely move there.
Neven Subotic, CB, Dortmund
Let the Thomas Rongen bashing begin (yours truly is one of them)—the “one that slipped away” to Serbia has developed into one of the most promising defenders in the world, a tidy and physically able clone of Nemanja Vidic.
The Serbian-American has garnered transfer interest from every big club in the world and will command an eight-figure transfer fee.
Manchester United—who might need to replace national teammate Vidic—Arsenal, and Barcelona are among his suitors.
Diego Benaglio, GK, Wolfsburg
Before moving to Wolfsburg and starring in goal for the Swiss side, Benaglio was probably known more for his prowess in Football Manager with first club Grasshoppers.
Benaglio fiddled in lower-tier leagues and Stuttgart’s reserves before finding a lifeline with Wolfsburg, which has allowed him to showcase his very good shot-stopping ability.
United are linked with Benaglio because of their persistent need for someone to step into the shoes of Peter Schmeichel, although a move to a bigger German club or ambitious Spanish side seems likely. Wolfsburg is a very well-backed and ambitious club nonetheless, so he could stay as well.
Edinson Cavani, ST, Palermo
Another fabulous talent that has been on the radar of big clubs for years, Cavani needed a strong showing at the World Cup to ignite a transfer to a big club.
He has been an important piece of Uruguay’s attacking trio, and his performances will surely boost his transfer value.
Tottenham is the most likely destination for Cavani (in the double swoop with Simon Kjaer), but he has litters of top-club options.
Michael Bradley, MC, Borussia Monchengladbach
You can tell that a player will probably leave his club when he’s asked to attend showdown talks to discuss "his future" (i.e. discuss a new contract and/or a potential transfer fee).
Bradley proved that he could cut it in Europe after his amazing 18-goal season for Heerenveen, and he proved that he could be an international star after his performances at the World Cup.
While Bradley may not be the most gifted technician, he is good at just about everything else and is a true box-to-box midfielder capable of playing on any club team in the world.
Bradley modeled his game after idol Roy Keane, and his same surely has similarities (temper included). His Keano-like game has seen him linked now with a flurry of English clubs, including Arsenal, and he may just provide a cheaper alternative to a big-name star like Daniele de Rossi.
Manuel Neuer, GK, Schalke
The 24-year-old keeper is honestly one of “those players” always targeted by big clubs.
Constantly rumored to be Edwin van der Sar’s successor at Manchester United (over his compatriot Rene Adler) or the next goal swoop in Spain, Neuer has been on teams' radars for many years.
His solid performances in this World Cup may finally substantiate a move though.
Steven Pienaar, LW, Everton
Everton saved Pienaar’s career, and in the meantime restored the hopes of South African football fans.
A playmaking winger, Pienaar was expected to spearhead the South African side and challenge for advancement out of the group stage. Although South Africa just missed out on advancement out of the group stage via goal difference, Pienaar performed well.
His good performances for both club and country earned him last season’s Everton Player of the Season reward, which is seen his transfer stock soar. A flurry of top-half English clubs are interested in the player, and Everton may not be able to keep Pienaar with his high wage demands.
Pienaar has one year remaining on his contract, so Everton may just have to cash in on the player and hope Diniyar Bilyaletdinov doesn’t remain at sixes and sevens.
Keisuke Honda, AMC/FW, CSKA Moscow
Japan has finally found its successor to Hidetoshi Nakata in Honda—brilliant technically, determined mentally, and excellent on set pieces, this playmaker is ambitious to set his mark in football.
His stellar performances out of position for Japan in the World Cup boosted his profile tremendously, but scouts have always regarded the talented technician as a potential superstar.
Honda’s luster was clear from his days at VVV Venlo and will continue to rise for the 24-year old.
Honda was very open about his ambition at VVV but still established himself as a club legend in his two-and-change seasons there. Keizer Keisuke chased a big-money move to CSKA Moscow but will be tempted to go back to Europe with a big offer.
Honda has been linked with a flurry of clubs, although he may be most comfortable moving to England because of his English proficiency (he spoke solely English during all of his player interviews at VVV).
Alexis Sanchez, FW, Udinese
Much like many of the top talents on the transfer block, Sanchez has had his name linked with big clubs. Manchester United, which has maintained interest in the electric forward/winger for a few years, apparently is his “dream” club.
A flurry of other clubs are interested in Sanchez after dazzling performances for both Udinese and Chile—where he spearheaded the aesthetically pleasing Chilean attack—but he has his heart set on United and will hope Fergie shares mutual feelings.
Simon Kjaer, CB, Palermo
Kjaer, the 2009 Danish Talent of the Year, has been a very composed force at center back for Denmark and Palermo.
He just about does everything well on defense and is ready to move on from the modest Sicilian club—Kjaer has the potential to be a truly world-class center back and will develop further at an elite club.
Palermo has all but confirmed that Kjaer will leave the club, but the destination remains unknown. Kjaer has been on the record stating that he wants Champions League football, which hurts Wolfsburg and childhood club Liverpool’s chances of signing him.
Tottenham and Manchester United are also in the battle for Kjaer’s signature.
Mesut Ozil, AMC, Werder Bremen
It’s not easy to step into the shoes of creative geniuses like Mehmet Scholl (the ethnic connection) and Diego (the club connection), but Ozil has done exactly that.
Ozil is a wunderkind blessed with loads of technical and creative ability, and he has developed well at Werder Bremen. Bremen has nurtured Ozil and fellow playmaker Marko Marin into potential superstars to the point that the pair have perhaps grown out of the club’s stature.
If Werder does have something going for it in its quest to keep Ozil, it’s the fact that he has clearly signaled that he needs substantial playing time at any club he plays at. However, Ozil is under contract until 2011, so Werder might want to leverage Ozil’s soaring stock before a potential Bosman.
Ozil’s been linked with a handful of clubs around the world, including Barcelona, Arsenal, Chelsea, and the club that courted him as a teenager, Manchester United.
Luis Suarez, FW/LW, Ajax
Like Fabiano, Suarez’s outstanding play for his club and country has put him on the shortlists of almost every big club in the world.
Sir Alex Ferguson has long been an admirer of Suarez—who plays as a support striker but is versatile enough to play wide—but has apparently been priced out of a transfer.
Tabloids speculate that Ajax won’t part with their captain without a £30M transfer fee, which leaves the likes of Tottenham, Barcelona, Juventus, Chelsea, and Arsenal battling for his signature.
Suarez has also come out to the press stating that he prefers Manchester United over other prospective clubs. Unlike Luis Fabiano, however, Suarez has also indicated that he is very happy at Ajax and will only move to a “big club” when the right opportunity comes knocking.
His opportunity should come soon though, considering his spectacular efforts have fired Uruguay into the quarterfinals of the World Cup.
Luis Fabiano, ST, Sevilla
Fabiano’s move away from Sevilla has been years in the making—ever since his spectacular 2007-2008 that saw him net 24 goals, he has pushed for a transfer to a club that would “provide Champions League football.”
Fabiano has thrived for both club and country and is ready to reap the rewards. Having proven himself with Brazil, Fabiano is ready to pursue a comparable challenge at the club level before he ages himself out of a big-money move; he is 29.
Challenges are readily available for him, considering he counts Manchester United and AC Milan among his suitors.
AC Milan submitted a formal transfer request last summer, yet Sevilla would not let him go because they had just extended his contract to 2011. That extended contract from last year will expire next year—with Fabiano clearly stating his intent to leave Sevilla as soon as he can, the club will look to cash in on him now at peak value.
Fabiano is bagging goals for his country with ease, and a big club will sign him hoping he can conjure similar magic.
Fabiano has recently come out to the press stating that he prefers Manchester United—a team that could use goal-scorers. United, however, most likely lack the funds in their purse to sign Fabiano alongside other pressing targets; the fact that they just signed “Chicarito” Hernandez doesn’t help his United case. Sir Alex is a known admirer of Fabiano’s talent though, so anything can happen.
These players aren't on the list because they definitely won't move clubs:
Robert Vittek, Ankaragücü: Just moved away from Lille.
Javier Hernandez, Manchester United: Just moved to United on a big-money move.
Diego Lugano, Fenerbahçe: The Fener captain just signed a new deal and will probably spend the rest of his career at Fener.
Cristian Riveros, Sunderland: Just moved to Sunderland.
Daniele De Rossi, Roma: Roma lifer and will be the next captain of Roma once Francesco Totti retires. Unfortunate for every big club since he's arguably the best box-to-box midfielder in the world.
Angel Di Maria, Real Madrid: Just moved to Real Madrid as one of Jose Mourinho's first signings.
Maicon, Real Madrid: Will move to Real Madrid as one of Jose Mourinho's first signings.
Tim Howard, Everton: He probably won't leave Everton unless an amazing opportunity arises.
Thomas Müller, Bayern Munich: Muller will be at Bayern for years to come.
David Silva, Manchester City: Just moved to City in a big-money transfer.
Allen J. Kha is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report. He is a student at the University of Virginia that also contributes to other Olympic sports publications. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.